14 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Leonard Nimoy

List Rules
Vote up the facts that made you say, "Whoa."

Leonard Nimoy was one of the greatest science fiction actors because he gave the world Mr. Spock, who is arguably one of the best sci-fi characters ever created. Like so many Star Trek actors, Nimoy has been so closely associated with Spock that it's difficult to imagine him in any other roles. The man wasn't limited to that one aspect of his career, but he's remembered fondly for it by millions of adoring fans.

Still, how much does the average fan know about Leonard Nimoy? If you only know him from Star Trek, odds are, there are plenty of things you probably didn't know about Leonard Nimoy. This list highlights some of the most fascinating facts about Nimoy and presents them below. Take a look at them, and don't forget to upvote your favorite interesting fact about Leonard Nimoy before you head to your TV to binge every episode of Star Trek and Ancient Mysteries!


  • 1
    77 VOTES

    He Once Drove A Taxi For John F. Kennedy

    Like many actors trying to make their mark in the industry, Leonard Nimoy worked a side job to make ends meet. In Nimoy's case, he worked as a cab driver during the evenings, so his days would be clear to audition.

    While working one evening, he had an interesting encounter with John F. Kennedy, which he recounted at the 2012 commencement speech at Boston University:

    I drove a taxi at night so that I could be available for auditions during the day. One night I picked up Jack Kennedy at the Bel Air Hotel. Yes, that Jack Kennedy. Senator from Massachusetts at the time and future president. We chatted about careers - politics and show business - and we agreed that both had a lot in common. Maybe too much in common. He said, "Lots of competition in your business, just like in mine," And then he gave me this. "Just remember there’s always room for one more good one." Words to live by, and I did.

  • 2
    39 VOTES

    His Sex Appeal Directly Affected Scenes In 'Star Trek'

    Mr. Spock was easily one of the most popular characters on Star Trek, and this was primarily due to the expertise in which he was portrayed by Leonard Nimoy. Of course, there was another reason he was popular, and it had a lot to do with Nimoy's sex appeal. When the show first started, he received about 35 letters a week. Eventually, that number bloomed to more than 2,700, and the vast majority came from women.

    This attention resulted in a few changes to how Star Trek filmed its episodes. In recognition of Spock's popularity, he was chosen to be a part of more away missions so that he would beam down with Captain Kirk and a few Redshirts in most episodes. This was a stark change, as the Science Officer wasn't initially intended to take part in that many away missions, but the fans effectively demanded it with their attention:

    In most of the shows, we were facing some kind of adversary for three acts. In the fourth act, Captain Kirk would say, "I'm going to beam down to the planet's surface." Mr. Spock would say, "Captain, I request permission to go with you," and Kirk would answer, "No, Spock, I need you on the ship." Then the rest of the fourth act would be Go Shatner, Go! When the mail started coming in, they began to include me on the trips to the planet. But at first, they didn't have time to rewrite the scripts. So I would just stand there and say, "Look out, captain, watch it!"

  • 3
    91 VOTES

    He Created The Vulcan Nerve Pinch To Avoid Fighting Scenes

    If there's one thing the original Star Trek series had a lot of, it was action scenes. There was hardly an episode where something doesn't go wrong and Captain Kirk's shirt stays on. People throwing others about and fighting are prevalent throughout the series, but that doesn't mean performing action scenes is something every actor is keen on doing. Leonard Nimoy quickly grew tired of these sequences, so he did something about it.

    To keep from filming elaborate action sequences, Nimoy came up with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch - a single move at the base of an opponent's neck that completely renders them unconscious. He explained in a video, "That was my way of avoiding fistfights." He grew tired of filming fights in television shows and movies, so he came up with a way to avoid all of that. The move first appeared in "The Enemy Within," which is the episode where Kirk is divided into two people, one good and one evil.

    The script called for Spock to come up behind the evil Kirk and bash him on the head with a phaser. Nimoy wasn't interested in doing that at all, so he went to the director and shared his plan to use a single pinch around the neck to bring down an enemy. The director went with it, and an entirely new aspect of Vulcans was invented. Of course, this happened in the series' fourth episode, so it was still very early in the history of Vulcans.

  • 4
    101 VOTES

    He Was A Champion For Pay Equality

    In the United States and around the world, women are paid less than men in all kinds of industries, including the arts. On Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura, didn't receive the same amount of pay as her fellow bridge crew officers, which Leonard Nimoy wasn't happy about.

    Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov, told the Las Vegas Sun, "When it came to the attention of the cast that there was a disparity in pay in that George [Takei] and I were getting the same pay, but Nichelle was not getting as much, I took it to Leonard, and he took it to the front office, and they corrected that."

    Nimoy also intervened to help his fellow cast members on the Star Trek animated series:

    George and Nichelle were not hired to do their voices in the animated series. I refused to do Spock until they were hired. Mr. Roddenberry started calling me the conscience of Star Trek.

  • 5
    57 VOTES

    He Directed A Successful '80s Comedy

    Leonard Nimoy is inescapably associated with Mr. Spock and the Star Trek franchise, but it's hardly the only thing he worked on throughout his decades-long career. He worked as an actor on a number of projects, but he also dabbled in directing, and he was incredibly successful. His first feature film directorial effort came when he took the helm of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

    Nimoy directed the sequel, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and the success of those two films opened up new opportunities for him. He directed the 1987 comedy Three Men and a Baby, which was incredibly successful both financially and critically. He also directed The Good Mother, Funny About Love, and Holy Matrimony. Nimoy also directed a television film called Vincent in 1981.

  • 6
    50 VOTES

    He Was An Accomplished Photographer

    Leonard Nimoy is best known for playing Mr. Spock, but acting wasn't his only interest. If things didn't work out for him as an actor, there's a good chance he would have pursued a career as a photographer. Nimoy began taking photographs as a hobby when he was a child, and he even rebuilt his camera when he was 13 years old. Nimoy was so interested in photography, he nearly changed careers after Star Trek was canceled.

    Nimoy wasn't just interested in photography; he studied it while attending the University of California, Los Angeles, in the 1970s. His photographs have been published and exhibited at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, MA. Nimoy found it challenging to break into photography as a profession, which he explained in a 2004 interview with The Republican:

    Being known in one area of the arts and wanting to move into another is complicated. In a certain way, you get attention because of who you are, but you also get a certain amount of resistance.